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NFL Fantasy Football Matchups Breakdown with Matt Savoca | Divisional Round Slate

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The best Yahoo NFL Picks for Divisional Sunday Night Football Chiefs vs. Bills single-game contests with expert projections, rankings & ownership

Baltimore Ravens (24) at Buffalo Bills (26)

All Graphs Reflect Last Five Weeks of Data, Click Graphs to Enlarge

Quick-Hitter Game Summary

  • While both the Buffalo and Baltimore defenses have been respectable in per-drive and per-play efficiency, this game has even more shootout potential than its Vegas total implies. There should be plenty of fantasy production from both offenses in this contest.
  • Lamar Jackson‘s $7,600 salary, second highest among quarterbacks, is keeping Jackson’s projected ownership low. He’s projected for less than 7% ownership on a slate with only eight starting quarterbacks, making him a quality play in tournaments.
  • The Bills have struggled against opposing tight ends, making Mark Andrews a no-brainer play at $5,000 on DraftKings.
  • Stefon Diggs $7,300 is only the third-highest salary among wide receivers, which the field is seeing as a massive discount. He’s projected for over 30% ownership this weekend, meaning there will be times fantasy gamers should consider strategically fade Diggs despite having a strong projection compared to salary-based expectations.
  • Somewhat surprisingly, Baltimore struggled down the stretch against opposing quarterbacks and rank second worst on the slate in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position. That’s a major boost for Josh Allen.

NFL DFS Upside Analysis

In neutral situations, no playoff team has passed more often on early downs than the Bills, and only the Chiefs throw more air yards per second of play. Paired with Allen’s league-leading per-drive and per-play efficiency during that same span, and the Bills have created the perfect recipe for consistent offensive production. Allen continues to play at the highest level of his career, while on the other side of the ball, Jackson seems to be rounding back into MVP form himself. Though the Ravens play much more conservatively in neutral situations, Jackson’s (and the rest of the running game’s) unique explosive abilities puts the shootout potential of this matchup through the roof. Betting the over seems like a savvy move in this spot as well.

Passing and Pace

Teams that play faster and pass more than average tend to score more fantasy points. When both teams play aggressively, it often creates a game environment perfect for fantasy scoring. Games have a higher probability of going over their Vegas total as well. Ideally we’re seeking matchups where both teams are in the upper-right quadrant of the chart below (see the chart’s caption for more details).

NFL DFS Picks for DraftKings and FanDUel Daily Fantasy Football Lineups Divisional Round Playoffs

The X-axis is Early-Down Air Yards divided by team game-script-adjusted plays per second (using Awesemo’s Game-Adjusted Pace from the Advanced Stats Page). The Y-axis is True Neutral Early-Down Pass Rate, a key indicator of a team’s desire to have a pass-oriented game script. The matchup-specific teams’ logos are displayed amongst all other teams in order to contextualize team pace and passing versus league averages (the dotted lines on the chart).

Quarterback Efficiency

Sustained drives in the NFL rely on efficiency at the quarterback position, so I’ve identified my three favorite performance indicators for assessing quarterback performance. The three bar charts below (see the graph’s caption for more detail) represent a quarterback’s per-drive efficiency (left bar chart), per-play efficiency — including rushes/scrambles (center) — and per-pass efficiency (right). Higher rankings from both players indicate a higher likelihood of efficient play, thus a higher probability of fantasy points.

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NFL DFS Picks for DraftKings and FanDUel Daily Fantasy Football Lineups Divisional Round Playoffs

The X-axis is Early-Down Air Yards divided by team game-script-adjusted plays per second (using Awesemo’s Game-Adjusted Pace from the Advanced Stats Page). The Y-axis is True Neutral Early-Down Pass Rate, a key indicator of a team’s desire to have a pass-oriented game script. The matchup-specific teams’ logos are displayed amongst all other teams in order to contextualize team pace and passing versus league averages (the dotted lines on the chart).


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NFL DFS Player Pool Picker

The entire Baltimore side of the ball looks to have fair salaries considering each player’s recent usage. Marquise Brown ranks seventh at his position on the slate in expected fantasy points per game but has the 11th-highest wide receiver salary, making him a solid value play this weekend. For Buffalo, Allen, Diggs and Devin Singletary, who will be taking on lead-back duties with Zack Moss sidelined for the remainder of the postseason, all seem like fantastic value plays against a Baltimore defense that ranks towards the bottom of the pack in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed over the past five weeks. Cole Beasley and John Brown continue to be high-upside (and in Brown’s case, low-floor) secondary options.

Baltimore Ravens NFL DFS Core Offenses

Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
BAL Lamar Jackson, QB #2 #2 #3 #2 26 Fpts (QB2)
BAL Marquise Brown, WR #11 #9 #7 #3 17 Fpts (WR7)
BAL Mark Andrews, TE #2 #3 #3 #6 14 Fpts (TE3)
BAL J.K. Dobbins, RB #4 #6 #9 #5 15.5 Fpts (RB4)
BAL Gus Edwards, RB #14 #10 #10 #5 10.5 Fpts (RB9)

Buffalo Bills NFL DFS Core Offenses

Team Player Positional Salary Rank FPTs/Gm Rank Expected FPTs/Gm Rank Defense vs. Position Expected Projection
BUF Josh Allen, QB #3 #1 #1 #7 27.5 Fpts (QB1)
BUF Stefon Diggs, WR #3 #1 #1 #7 27 Fpts (WR1)
BUF Devin Singletary, RB #11 #13 #12 #8 6.5 Fpts (RB13)
BUF John Brown, WR #15 #19 #20 #6 8.5 Fpts (WR19)
BUF Cole Beasley, WR #13 #15 #9 #8 11 Fpts (WR15)

Unless participating in a large-field tournament, the players above are the players that fantasy gamers should be focusing on in their daily fantasy football lineups. For each player, it’s easy to compare their DraftKings main-slate salary ranking (in column 3) to their per-game fantasy scoring (in column 4). A player’s opportunity is measured by expected fantasy points, (column 5), which is curated by PFF.  Defense vs. Position (column 6) is an extremely helpful position-specific and player group-specific metric (for example, the metric delineates between primary wide receiver vs. secondary wide receivers) that helps determine if an offensive player is likely to be in a position to exceed their expected fantasy points. Higher numbers in the Defense vs. Position column indicate easier matchups for the offense, while numbers closer to one indicate a stout defense against that specific position group. Finally, expected projection (column 7) combines a player’s expected fantasy points with their weekly matchup into one helpful value metric. Apart from the Awesemo projections (which should still carry the most weight in determining player value), expected projection is one of my favorite metrics to help me narrow down my favorite plays of the week. The rankings are always specific to the slate, meaning if a player or team is ranked No. 1 at a specific metric, they may not necessarily be ranked No. 1 in the NFL, but they are for this specific slate.

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NFL DFS Skill Position Values: Expected Points

Don’t simply ignore Antonio Williams name from the top of the running back chart. Not only will Williams likely mix in as a change-of-pace back this weekend, but Williams’ impressive Week 17 usage serves as a blueprint for Singletary’s expected workload. Singletary will very likely have the highest touch total of any running back in this game, and if Buffalo moves the ball as well has they have been in recent weeks, he’ll have an excellent chance to finish off drives with a goal-line plunge. J.K. Dobbins has been one of the most efficient running backs in the NFL since Week 14, but Gus Edwards continues to steal high-value usage, lowering Dobbins’ weekly floor. Diggs is in a usage class of his own, re-confirming that he’s one of the best plays on the entire slate.

By assigning a value to each play (based on score, down, distance to the goal line, distance to first down, play type, etc.), we can measure not just a player’s workload, but the expected value of that workload using recent league history as a guide. Expected fantasy points should be considered a volume metric. If a player scores more fantasy points (represented by the dots in the bar chart below) than expected, that means the player is either talented or lucky (or both) and may have unsustainable fantasy production based on their usage.

This chart measures Expected Fantasy Points (DraftKings scoring) per Game, indicated by each player’s bar, as well as fantasy points per game, indicated by the dot. If a dot is outside the bar, that means the player is performing above expectation. If the dot is within the bar, that means the player is performing below expectation. It includes injured players in order to help contextualize players who might be receiving a smaller or larger workload based on personnel shifts.

 

NFL DFS Picks for DraftKings and FanDUel Daily Fantasy Football Lineups Divisional Round Playoffs

This chart measures Expected Fantasy Points (DraftKings scoring) per Game, indicated by each player’s bar, as well as fantasy points per game, indicated by the dot. If a dot is outside the bar, that means the player is performing above expectation. If the dot is within the bar, that means the player is performing below expectation. It includes injured players in order to help contextualize players who might be receiving a smaller or larger workload based on personnel shifts.

NFL DFS Auxiliary Offensive Players for Large-Field Contests

Gabriel Davis and Dawson Knox are both excellent salary-saving ways to get exposure to the Bills’ offense, but both are thin plays due to the prowess of Diggs, Beasley and (a healthy) Brown, but both have strong usage relative to their part-times snap shares. Baltimore has struggled against opposing wideouts in recent weeks, ranking worst on the slate in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to the position. Miles Boykin, the most athletic of the Ravens’ auxiliary passing game options, makes for an interesting stacking option with Jackson in large-field contests.

Baltimore Ravens NFL DFS Tournament Picks

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Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
BAL Willie Snead IV, WR 56% 48 #2 Look Elswhere
BAL Miles Boykin, WR 59% 33 #3 MME-only
BAL Dez Bryant, WR 25% 29 #3 Look Elsewhere

Buffalo Bills NFL DFS Tournament Picks

Team Player Snap Share Opportunity Score Defense vs. Position Outlook: Value, MME-only, Look Elsewhere
BUF Dawson Knox, TE 68% 71 #3 Value
BUF Gabriel Davis, WR 79% 64 #8 Value

In daily fantasy football, depending on the size and type of contest you’re playing, it’s often advantageous to expand your player pool to less-utilized offensive players. In this section, we examine every part-time player’s usage based on playing time, opportunity and defensive matchup. For each player, an Opportunity Score is calculated using position-specific predictive metrics, which are then scaled to number between zero (least valuable) and 100 (most valuable). Scores above 50 tend to indicate starter-level opportunity, while scores over 80 indicate star-level usage. Finally, players are categorized as an NFL DFS value, a mass multi-entry option (MME-only) or a player to avoid altogether.

Final Thoughts

There’s a ton to like in this matchup on both sides of the ball, making this game an ideal build-around spot for daily fantasy football gamers. Diggs and Andrews lead a stacked group of skill players, many of which should have opportunities to produce in a game with 50-plus expected points. Both quarterbacks look like solid bets to return value.

Prediction: Baltimore 31, Buffalo 30


Looking for more NFL DFS picks and daily fantasy football matchups content? We have loads of articles, data and more on the Awesemo NFL home page. Just click HERE.

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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